How do dogs mourn?

Our question this week was:

My husband recently passed away suddenly. We have 2 dogs (female and male shih tzu…brother and sister) that adored him. Can you tell me about how dogs mourn the death of a loved one and what I can do to help them thru this difficult time?

Carol Shaffoe

Answer

Hi – thanks for your email. I'm sorry to hear about your loss Carol. You wrote that your husband recently died and that your two shih tzu's dogs adored him.

You asked how dogs may mourn and what you can do. Because our pets cannot speak, we don't really know what is going through their minds or what they are thinking. We must base our interpretations of their emotional state on their behavior – what they do in certain situations and under specific circumstances.

I believe they do mourn and feel the loss. Some dogs will have a hard time and others go on without problems.

Some dogs will be depressed or just stressed by looking for the familiar people in their home and routine. The best thing you can do is spend time with them, make sure they are eating and drinking, try to keep their routine familiar and ensure they get plenty of exercise.

An article that might be helpful to you is Do Dogs Mourn? and Do Dogs Grieve Their Owner's Passing?

The second article here has some specific suggestions for dealing with dog related depression that may be helpful.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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